Though they hate to admit it, even the Chosen of Eshu have their dark secrets, and one of them is the aithu. Though they look similar on the surface, the aithu are a corruption of everything the Elegbara embody. Eshu like traveling alone, while aithu typically run in small raiding parties, preferably with others of their own kind. Eshu tell stories to entertain and enlighten others, while aithu use their gift with words to rob the innocent and unwary. Elegbara are synonymous with dignity and pursue their chosen passions with grace and style; aithu are crude and unrefined, delighting in rough humor and pastimes considered immature by small children. Eshu follow the path of destiny or freedom, as suits their nature, and heed the call of adventure; aithu, on the other hand, see no point in destiny of any kind and flee at the first sign of trouble when the going gets even remotely tough. Elegbara claim that the aithu first sprang up as the result of ignorant humans perverting tales of their own Iku brothers, turning them from noble rogues into little more than scavengers and bandits. As these stories multiplied, so too did the aithu, which is why to this day they travel in packs. They even corrupted the very name of Elegbara, twisting it into the vulgar aithu, which is perhaps the greatest crime of all in the eyes of Eshu's Chosen.
These differences, combined with the fact that aithu raiding parties frequently targeted the very lands the Elegbara called home, gave the Oba no choice but to finally declare war on them several centuries ago, seeking to drive them from the world forever. It was a war carried out away from Kithain eyes, raging throughout Africa and even spilling over into the Middle East and parts of Eastern Europe. At first it was a nearly even match, for despite their powerful magic and superior courage, the Elegbara still fought alone, as was their custom, while the aithu traveled in raiding parties that frequently overwhelmed their lone opponents through sheer numbers. At last, however, the wrath of the oba exploded into fullblown battle rage, and brimming with fury they led the first and last great war parties of the Elegbara against their enemies. The devastation was terrible and casualties heavy on both sides, but in the end the Elegbara triumphed as they knew they would. The few surviving aithu were captured and banished to a distant oubliette realm of the Dreaming, where it was believed they would languish until the end of all things.
Last year, however, word came from a trusted scout that the telltale tracks of the aithu had been found in a region of the war-ravaged Sudan. Following these marks led to a camp that, while abandoned at the scout's approach, confirmed that not only had the aithu returned, but their numbers were rapidly on the rise again. Worse still, in their haste to flee the scene, they had left behind proof that not only confirmed there were more bands of aithu active in Africa, but that several packs of them had also already infiltrated Europe and Concordia as well. While they hate making such private business public, the oba know that the time has come for them to let the Kithain know of the existence of these twisted cousins, before they malign the name of true Elegbara forever. Now all that remains to be seen is just how widespread they've already become.
Left to their own devices, most aithu will gather in packs of their own kind, or failing that, other villains who share their love of theft and trickery. Crafty aithu bands (there are a few) use their numbers and Birthrights to set up elaborate confidence games, possibly fleecing a dozen or more people at once. Even the most suspicious folk don't tend to expect that a whole group of seemingly innocent people could all be working together, after all. Lazier or less intelligent aithu simply form street gangs or biker clubs and travel where they will, using their voices to hold mortals captive as they rob houses or entire neighborhoods, then slip away under the cover of the Mists. Aithu prefer to keep their own company but will work with other Thallain and members of the Shadow Court if none of their own kind can be found, effectively adopting these friends as their new pack. They loathe eshu and oba, though, regardless of court, and will never keep company with them for long except to betray them or otherwise do them as much harm as possible. In battle, aithu enjoy using their numbers to their advantage, and given time to prepare they will attempt to use their disguise ability to lure their enemies into carefully arranged ambushes, striking from surprise whenever possible. They are not noted for their courage, however, and most will retreat if injured or even if it simply looks like the fight is going against them. Aithu typically put a surprising amount of work into pulling off their schemes, then flee town to enjoy themselves and do as little as possible until the money runs out, at which point the cycle starts anew.
When they must, most aithu can pass themselves off as rather unkempt eshu, though their differences become more obvious the closer one gets. Aithu are slightly shorter than their eshu counterparts, with stubbier ears as well. While most eshu are fairly thin, aithu appear lean and hungry, no matter how well nourished they actually are. Their hair naturally twists into dirty tangles, while their eyes are dark, wild and clever, like those of a scavenging animal on the prowl, and they fidget constantly, always checking the nearest exit. Aithu have slight but distinct points on their teeth, which they often hide by smiling only right before they spring a trap. They like fine clothes and luxury accessories but tend to wear them out quickly, so even their newest clothes look slightly ragged. Despite their relatively recent return, due to their rapid breeding habits there are already aithu from practically every racial stock one can imagine, though African and Mediterranean features still predominate.
Aithu are a Thallain kith and as such do not have a Seelie Legacy, but rather two Unseelie Legacies they alternate between. This also means that cantrips require the Fae Realm of Elusive Gallain to be of any use against them.
Birthrights & Frailty Edit
- Affinity: Actor
- Entrancement: All aithu have enchanting voices, like their eshu cousins, but over time they have developed a very specific way of using their voices to help hunt for prey. They may try to trap an audience with the hypnotic power of their voices, allowing the aithu a chance to escape or making their targets easy pickings for their associates. Targets may not be assaulted in any way or the effect is immediately broken, although targets are treated as surprised for the first round of combat due to the distraction of the magic. Note that this does not prohibit picking pockets, stealing jewelry or other nonaggressive thievery. Once the tale is over, the Mists ensure that mortals usually don't remember this Birthright's use. (Supernatural creatures may, at the Storyteller's discretion, roll half their Willpower versus a target of 8 to remember that something didn't seem right.) To use Entrancement, the aithu must begin telling a story, spend a Glamour point and roll Manipulation + Persuasion, resisted by the target's Willpower. If the aithu gets even one success, the target is frozen in place until the aithu finishes speaking or the effect is interrupted as outlined above. Oba and eshu are completely immune to this Birthright. It is impossible for aithu to ever botch a Subterfuge or Athletics roll.
- Pitiful Visage: Aithu have limited natural shape-shifting talents and may spend a Glamour point and make an Appearance + Subterfuge roll (difficulty 7); if successful, they can alter their features to appear as either a kindly old person or a beautiful and naïve young thing. This change lasts for up to 1 hour per success. Aithu usually employ these unthreatening disguises only to better catch potential victims off guard or to help escape the notice of angry victims of past scams. Specific individuals may not be imitated with this Birthright, nor can it drastically alter the character's height and weight, though the appearance of the other gender may he impersonated if the aithu desires. Finally, it does not change any "scientific" details about the aithu (finger-prints, retina patterns, etc.), nor does it change a character's Attributes in any way — it is a purely surface transformation, though a convincing one. Suspicious foe may see through the disguise by beating the aithu's successes on a Perception + Kenning roll; likewise, vigilant Prodigals may attempt similar tests at the Storyteller's discretion. This Birthright can never he activated in front of mortals, but an aithu who is already transformed may wear his disguise in their presence normally. The Mists protect aithu who shift back to their true shape in front of mundane witnesses.
- Spellbound: There's one easy way to tell aithu from their eshu cousins: aithu cannot stand listening to the stories of others, because they easily become absorbed in them and fall into a state much like the one caused by their own Entrancement Birthright. To avoid this, they will constantly interrupt, change the subject and otherwise actively disrupt the efforts of others to tell stories. If someone is particularly persistent, the aithu will become openly hostile and seek to remove themselves from the offender's presence as quickly as possible. Little stories, such as someone relating what they did at school or a minor incident that happened one day when they were five, do not trigger this Frailty, though they are still quite irritating to the aithu. Only longer, more involved tales trigger it (Storyteller's discretion). For some reason, fellow aithu and other Thallain never trigger this Frailty, although even then aithu like being the center of attention and are quite rude to those who try to take it from them. Any time the Storyteller feels the character has been exposed to too much unblemished narrative, or any time the aithu is the target of an appropriate Social roll, the character must make a Willpower roll (difficulty 8). Failure means the aithu is entranced for the duration of the story. What's more, when it is finished, aithu feel compelled to either return anything they've taken from the target or offer the storyteller some minor favor or small gift as payment for the tale (a few dollars, a single meal, etc.).
Quote: Mind if my friends and I come in out of the cold for a moment? We won't be long.